Every day people walk past one another not saying a word because they’re strangers – unless they’re subjects featured in pictures taken by photographer Richard Renaldi.
Visitors to Loyola University Museum of Art can see 31 of the dozens of photos Renaldi took across the country of people who didn’t know each other before the Chicago native brought them together before his camera. (Three of the photos were taken in Chicago, including one at Millenium Park.)
Renaldi’s “Touching Strangers” exhibit shows pairs and groups of strangers getting intimate and friendly, the way one would do to a family member or close friend.
He randomly pairs people from all walks of life. Their touching faces or hands, their linked arms challenge viewers to reevaluate their assumptions about race, sexuality, age and other ways society categorizes people.
Renaldi, a gay man now living in New York City, sought to convey the message that differences can bind people together.
“Renaldi creates ground for new conversations and documents a momentary truth as it unfolds between two individuals,” explains curator Anne Pallesen’s in written materials that accompany the exhibit.
There are so many ways to interpret Renaldi’s work.
“It shows how humanity can be, and it captures a moment of what could be,” said Lisa Caputo Love, a volunteer docent at LUMA and Loyola University alum.
Another Loyola alum, Jenn Peel, said she thinks she’d like to be in a Renaldi photograph herself and wonders with whom the photographer would pair her.
Peel’s favorite photograph is of Vincent and Charles, taken in 2012 in Los Angeles. The photo displays two men touching hands like they are high-fiving; they’re looking straight into the camera with a blank expression.
“Seems like West Side Story. There is tension between the two boys, but also a sense of unity,” Peel said.
Sunday, Aug. 2nd is your last chance to see the exhibit at 820 N. Michigan Ave. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the cost is $8.